Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Open the eyes of our faith

I found this Anglican prayer for the Wednesday of Easter week meaningful, and hope you will too:

O God,
whose blessed Son made himself known
to his disciples in the breaking of bread:
Open the eyes of our faith,
that we may behold him in all his redeeming work;
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever.

May this Easter season really be a time when we allow God to open our eyes of faith, to see Jesus more clearly than ever before. To fall more deeply in love with our Savior who has done so much for us.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Would you rather be right or good?

This question was implied in a part of today's sermon, and it's gotten me to thinking.

The guest pastor who was preaching, spoke about how frequently we're told the the Bible that Jesus was good, or we're to do good (in just 5 minutes I came up with these 8 passages:Matthew 24:45-47, Matthew 26:9-11, Mark 3:3-5, Acts 10:37-39, Romans 2:6-8, Romans 12:20-21, Galations 6:8-10, 1 Peter 3:14-16 and there are lots more). He was NOT saying that we are saved by doing good; the Bible is very clear that salvation is by the gift of faith in Jesus' work on the cross that God gives to His people. He was just saying that repeatedly we find this lifestyle of doing good in the Bible; and it's a lifestyle for which God's followers should be known. The pastor was contrasting doing good to being right because, in our culture, it seems that Christians are much more concerned about being right and doing right than about being good.

As the pastor was talking about this I found myself asking What is the difference between doing right and doing good, what does that look like? I was fascinated by this whole concept. He gave a couple of examples. One of the examples he gave really resounded for me because it's an issue that I've long struggled with; I was delighted by his insight on how having an attitude to do good as our guiding notion, rather than to be right, impacts this specific situation.

The situation was with regard to gender confusion and homosexuality. He was talking about giving advice to the parent of a teen who is having gender confusion and questions about her sexuality and homosexuality. He pointed out that if our main concern is being right we have 2 polar extremes to choose from: On the one hand we have the people who are certain that to be gay or bi-sexual is just who you are and it's your right to be who you are, that young people should be encouraged to come out and proudly be who they are. On the other hand you have people who are certain that to be gay or bi-sexual is a sin and that the teen who has these issues will never experience true freedom until she repents of this sin. But, if our main concern is doing good we will not interact with our child on the basis of if what she is dealing with is right or wrong. The good thing for a parent would be love; that the teen would know that her parents will be there for her no matter what, that they are not going anywhere, that she knows she can always count on them.

This was extra relevant for my husband John and I currently because he has a 19yr old relative who appears to be engaging in the gay lifestyle. At the last couple of family gatherings she's brought a friend who seems lesbian. I've gone out of my way to be friendly and inclusive toward this friend because it can be somewhat uncomfortable to be around a friend's family, easy to not feel a part of things. I've always enjoyed this specific relative, so I've made sure to spend time with both her and her friend at recent gatherings.

When I look at Jesus, I see Him participating in social events with sinners. I get the impression that He sincerely enjoyed people. Romans 1:18-21 tells me that I can see God's invisible qualities and nature through His creation. The creation is beautiful and calls out to be enjoyed; there are so many things in nature that appear to beautiful and melodic without a specific purpose. I tend to think that this shows me that God wants us to experience pleasure and enjoyment. To let our hearts soar when we look at a sunset, hear the song of water rushing over the rocks, feel the breeze caress our skin. To delight in the people in our lives.

I'm not sure how to put this into words, but somewhere in my heart I'm convinced that by loving people, sincerely enjoying them, I'm living Christ's lifestyle. That it will be my love for the people who are in my day to life that will draw them toward God. I adore the way Paul said it in Philippians 4:4 (MSG):

"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive."

Again, I don't know exactly how to say it, but it seems that by being good to people, living a good life, it's a better representation of God than by needing to always let people know that I'm right, that I don't sin, that I have the correct doctrine. That's not to say that doctrine and being set apart for God are not good and important. It is just to say that living a good life is more of a guiding principle.

What about you, do you think it's more important to be right or to be good? Why? Have you ever experienced one of these as having a more significant impact on the people in your life?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are Differences Always Wrong?

I really enjoy reading blogs.

Lots of times I notice that many blogs by Christians criticize the organized church in America. One of the common criticisms is that there are so many different denominations and groups.

But is that necessarily wrong?

I personally do not think so.

I think that among those of us who have accepted Jesus' death on the cross in our place, given our lives over to His care and to follow after Him, and to whom He's given His Holy Spirit - sometimes we will not be in total agreement over issues that are not the main Christian doctrines. It seems reasonable that we would be most comfortable worshiping with others who have a like mind regarding "side issues" such as how we set up our church services. I think the main thing is that we need to always remember that the side issues are not the main issues. The main issue is that God sent Jesus to die in our place and that every human needs Him. We are to be sharing this truth and loving and helping those around us because God wants to love and help people through us. Just because I may worship on a Sunday at a specific denominational church, I may still be working alongside another Christ follower who worships on Sundays at a different denominational church, to reach out to the poor or needy in my community, or to tutor kids at the local local school, or in whatever other endeavor I feel God leading me.

I don't think the issue is if we have several different churches, each of whom see side issues differently. I think the issue is if each of these churches is respectful of the others, if we are all aware of the fact that together we comprise the body of our Lord Jesus Christ on this earth.

However, having said that, I do recognize that not every group that calls itself "Christian" really is. The reason some particular religious groups are considered cults, even if they call themselves Christians, is simply because they differ from the the main Christian doctrines that comprise historic Christianity. They are not considered "cults" because they are thought to be bad people individually, but because they do not hold to beliefs that are essentially Christian. The link I have here for main Christian doctrines lists only the most very basic tenants of the Christian faith; any group that does not hold to these is not in it's essence Christian. I'm uncomfortable when Christians are trying to be so all encompassing that they fail to make this differentiation because without salvation through Jesus, we are lost. I don't want to be so caught up in being nice and inclusive that I let someone go to hell. On the other hand, I have a few friends who are involved in cults and I do not go around trying to shove the gospel down their throats. I love these friends and count myself blessed to be their friend and have them in my life; I seek to be the best friend possible to them, pray for them, and seek when and how and if God wants me to speak out anything to them.

What about you, do you think differences are always wrong? When do you think you need to "draw the line" and how do you do that?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes I mess up even when I want to do the right things

Have you ever been seeking after God, trying to do what is right, and still messed up?

I have.

Just recently I did something that seemed right at the time, and I had the right motives, but it was a dumb move that brought bad results. Right now I'm experiencing the consequences of my poor choice. It's always so much easier to look back on situations and know what the right choice would have been, but sometimes it's difficult to determine when in the midst of the situation.

Through this situation I've caused myself, I've been choosing to rejoice in God. Choosing to thank Him and trust Him with my life even though some things are looking rather dire.

But I've been tempted to beat myself up over my mistake. Then, last night the Holy Spirit encouraged me, He reminded me that I am not my actions. That, because of the work of Christ on the cross, because I have accepted His death in my place and given my life to Him, that God sees me as clean and gives me a hope and future (Hebrews 2:14-17,Romans 5:1-2, Jeremiah 29:11). It's not about my actions, it's about God's actions; it's about what God has done, and is continuing to do, in my life.

What hope and freedom this truth brings.

This line of thought irritates an atheist acquaintance of mine because it seems to him that I'm saying that if I just have the correct belief, that I can go act any way I please. The thing is, that because of the very truth that God loves me and considers me acceptable and His child regardless of my actions, I want to do the right thing more than ever. I'm reminded of how in Romans 6:15-18 the apostle Paul describes that God's grace makes us want more than ever to give Him our entire lives and have a holy life, a life set apart for God, instead living to satisfy my selfish desires.

The grace of God changes me. I don't deserve it. I can't earn it. The overwhelming goodness of His graces changes me from the inside out.

Have you ever found that you can be seeking God but still mess up? What effects does God's grace have on your life?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Terrific Tuesday with Mike from Christian Cognition

Today's Terrific Tuesday guest is Mike who writes at Christian Cognition.

Mike describes himself this way: "A husband of a wife, a father of a son, a child of the Almighty. I honestly know I am the greatest sinner I know. The longer I live, the more I realize how desperately I need a Savior." He also claims: "I'm my hair!" He's a police officer and sometimes relates about his experiences at work and sharing Christ there.

Here's a post from Mike written just for today:


I used to stress over all that I needed to do to please God. I’ve even stressed over all that I needed to not do in order to please God. I long struggled to live a life that would give God pleasure, and it was truly a roller-coaster ride. So when I failed to do what I thought would please Him (Romans 7), I questioned if I was saved at all! What a miserable experience it was for me, for a Christian who was supposedly assured that I could not be removed from God’s hand. I examined my life and found it to be lacking whatever necessary to please God.

I saw my salvation in light of the stringent set of laws given by God. I thought, “If I can’t obey them, then I must not please God. And if I am not pleasing God, then I must not be saved.” How could I possibly meet God’s heavy demands when my life is plagued by sins of commission (things that I did that are forbidden) and sins of omission (things that I did not do that I should have done)?

I would finally realize that I would never please God on my own, or “in the flesh”, as the Bible puts it. Apart from Christ I can do nothing. Sure, I can dress and eat and sleep and work apart from Christ…but it was in this phrase “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” that I found hope as a Christian man struggling to please God. Finally, I have assurance that I DO please God, but only by and through Jesus Christ! John recorded Jesus’ words in John 15 that apart from Him we will bear no fruit of salvation that pleases God.

Watchman Nee puts it this way: “If I try to please God ‘in the flesh’, then immediately I place myself under the Law. I broke the Law; the Law pronounced the death sentence…but it is Christ who works in me what is well-pleasing to God.” (“The Normal Christian Life” pp.164-165). A drowning man will fight for his life and possibly even drown his rescuer. But “a drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself” (ibid, p.168).

What truly brings God pleasure is the glory that Jesus Christ brings Him. I share in glorifying God when it is Jesus Christ doing the glorifying on my behalf.

Have you noticed any efforts in your own life to please God, not because you enjoy living a life that pleases Him, but because you felt the obligation to do so for the sake of your salvation?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is Mercy only good when I'm receiving it?

Have you ever noticed that you like it when Mercy is extended to you, but resent it when "bad" people receive Mercy?

As an administrator, I've seen this frequently in the work place. Sometimes a supervisor will be displeased and upset when they've seen me extending grace toward another supervisor. When another supervisor has messed up and they see me coming alongside him to help him overcome his deficiency, instead of coming down on him and meting out punishment, sometimes that stirs up some resentment. But that same supervisor will be grateful for my kindness when it's him that's messed up.

I have an agnostic acquaintance who's voiced an aberration toward the God I follow, and one of the reasons is because he finds the whole mercy thing ridiculous. The fact that the Bible says that someone could live a "good" life and end up in hell, while someone else could live a "bad" life, and then repent and turn to God for salvation near the very end of his life, and get to spend eternity in God's presence - that doesn't seem reasonable or fair to him. I've agreed with him, that it's not fair. The truth is that every one of us deserves to spend eternity in damnation and separation from the Holy God. None of us is good enough, none of us is perfect, so on our own we can not come into the presence of a Holy God. It's only through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in my place that I get to have a relationship with God.

But sometimes I've forgotten about all that.

Sometimes I've become so concerned about being surrendered to the laws of God, and doing things His way, that I forget about being surrendered to the purpose of God. Recently someone mentioned how much they liked a preacher named Andy Stanley, so I googled him, and while I was doing household tasks, I listened to a sermon of his from the book of Jonah. Stanley made this point during his sermon that really hit me:

"you become judgmental by being a very very good person who never surrenders to what God wants to do in the lives of people who are not as good as you are"

Oh gee, isn't that terrible?! And you know what? Sometimes I've been like that. But I never want to act like that again.

What about you, have you ever had problems with judgmental Christians? Have you ever been surprised to find that you've been judgmental? Is it easy or tough for you to extend mercy toward others? What helps you be merciful?

My cowardly heart needs to learn to be silent

I'm often encouraged by the prayers of others. I'm inspired by that glimpse into the heart of another. Often I find bits of myself in others' prayers; and increased understanding. Here's part of just such a prayer by
Karl Rahner:

Though I find it so hard to serve you,
my weak and cowardly heart must learn to be silent and not to complain.
Rather should my mouth belie my heart - which wants to remonstrate with you - because in doing so it tells me of your truth, which is more important than mine:
Indeed, Lord, your service is good, your yoke is sweet and your burden light.

I thank you for all that you have asked of me in my life.
Be praised for the time in which I was born, glorified for my hours of happiness and my days of misery, blessed for everything that you have denied me.

Lord, though I am a lazy and head-strong servant, never dismiss me from your service.
You have power over my heart.
You have power over me even in the depths of my soul, where I alone am master of my eternal fate,
for your grace is the grace of eternal omnipotence.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Terrific Tuesday with Dave from Fire and Grace

Today's Terrific Tuesday guest is David who writes at Fire and Grace.

Have you ever noted that you frequently relate to someone's comments when you're commenting on blogs? Well that's how it was for me with David's comments. So I went on over to check out his blog, Fire and Grace, and was delighted with what I found.

Here's a post from David written just for today:

On the steps of St. John's Episcopal Church in Essex, Father Thomas told one of his parishioners that I was his friend and resident smart-alec (he actually used another word - but this is a nice blog - Tracy is a nice person). Now that we have that out of the way, I'd like to thank Tracy for inviting me to share some drivel on her dime.

I have been around the Christian church for a long time - heard all the blasphemies and heresies you can imagine. IMHO, I may have created a few myself. I have written about the Top 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do, Things I Hate About Christianity, the 10 Commandments for Facebook, and my most popular blogs are about Poor Folks, and The Cost of Following Jesus.

In my most sarcastic style (which my wife won't let me use at home), I thought I would debut with the 10 most popular hot-button issues in church today. If I go down in flames, it's Tracy's blog not mine. ;o)

When church folk bring up one of the following topics, it can be like a space shuttle launch with Scriptures flying everywhere - sure to call for a secret elders rendezvous, a deacon's vote - or at least, a line item on this years "business meeting" agenda.

1 Worship Volume - too loud, to soft, can't hear the guitar, can you turn off Squeakly's mic? - "I'm a sound engineer, let me set the board up." "Don't touch anything, it's set to record the sermon!" There aren't too many solutions here. You can worship Jesus, or pop in a couple of ear-buds to listen to August Burns Red on your iPod like the teenagers do.

I rate this 1 devil as a hot-button issue in church.

1 Devil

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

2 Kids Church - why are we always looking for Sunday School teachers? Because the trouble makers that make this such a fun job to volunteer for, are probably our kids. One of the reasons we are at church is that we need some rest, right? Sometimes the need for teachers is so urgent, we have a pulpit prayer announcement. "Lord we pray for teachers with a heart for the children... snot wipers and diaper changers. And bless our week Lord, in Jesus' name." Can't we suffer our kids to someone else?

2 Devils

Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

3 Coffee - you would think that Starbuck's just found out their coffee was being picked by study abroad students in chain gangs. The very moment someone in the church finds a coffee pot that was not plugged in, pouring out the first cup of lukewarm tap water, the whole church comes to a screeching halt like cars on a foggy freeway in Southern California. Sunday is ruined, sermons are forgotten and there is hell to pay.

3 Devils

Acts 20:19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested . .

4 Singles Group - how is it that the person that hasn't had a date in 3.5 hours could think that God called them to lead this group? A replay of the Fellowship Hall surveillance camera reveals the motives of the heart. And for the pot-luck mixer, I suggest casting lots for the seating arrangement.

2 Devils

1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

5 Pastor's Salary - why should a pastor with a masters degree make more than someone stocking shelves at the local supermarket - after all he only works nights and weekends? And whose idea was it to take away his double-time pay on holidays? That's just not right.

3 Devils

1 Timothy 5:18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages."

6 Giving - from pledges to tithes, building funds to love offerings - the all mighty dollar will produce impassioned Christians in a heartbeat. To get brethren to be real about Christianity, I suggest passing the offering basket 2 or 3 times during a service, have an appeal for earthquake relief, followed up by a youth group bake sale in the lobby to benefit missions to Guatemala.

3 Devils

2 Corinthians 9 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

7 End Times - how is it that everyone seems to have a theory on what day Jesus is coming back? Each one with their own little piece of private insight. As Christian I think that we will know the seasons, not the day and the hour.

Matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Matthew 24:5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

4 Devils

8 Sex
- from the prudish to the "it's okay if you're in love" gang, nothing stirs up the church like the topic of sex in its various forms and perversions. You would think that with all the verses describing what godly sex is not, that we'd have a lot less debate about sex education, teen pregnancies and church discipline for the fallen.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders,drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

5 Devils

9 Spiritual Gifts - nothing divides a church like the issue of speaking or praying in tongues. Is it God, is it the devil, should we do it unless there is an interpretation? What about prophecy and casting out demons, apostles and woman in ministry?

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

9 Devils

10 God's Will for the Church - like rams during mating season, there is no equal to church members butting heads like the topic of God's will for the church. Bible verses and opinions scatter like feathers in a fan. I read a blog recently that said that church is an archive for old ideas. With dozens of denominations, I am beginning to wonder if anyone has read the whole book?

Romans 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

10 Devils

How about you, do you have any Hot-Button issues in church? What are they, and how would you rate them?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

If we're entitled to only good, what do we do when tragedy strikes?

Recently I read a different take, by Donald Kopke, on the Genesis account of the fall in the garden of Eden.

Kopke's premise was that the reason Adam and Eve were happy before the fall of man in the garden, was because they'd accepted the "no". Every day they passed the tree of the fruit of good and evil, and every day they chose to accept the "no". Every day they chose to accept that they could not eat of the fruit, they lived in peace, happiness, and communion with God, one another, and the rest of creation. It was only when they chose to not accept the "no" that the problems began.

Kopke wasn't writing this as a theology lesson, but as a look at an approach to life that allows us to deal with loss, pain and suffering. If negative circumstances are considered a part of life, then finding ways to deal with them while still having hope for the future, and joy in the day, is possible. But if one is entitled to only good experiences, then frustration, anger, and blame result when tragedy occurs.

It's easy for me to see how our culture is one of entitlement. Every ad on TV shows you how perfect health, beauty, and indulgence is my "right"; and that if I'll just buy their product, I can enjoy those rights. "No", or the concept of not having something one wants, is not promoted.

But what's got me to thinking, is the question that came to my mind as to how have I bought into the entitlement lies?

I witnessed an example of my buy-in just recently. I've had some real financial challenges come my way, and I've caught myself starting to get short with those closest to me and to have a negative attitude. I had to take some time by myself to let God show me the source of this bad attitude on my part - and I found that it was because I was feeling resentful about the lack of money. On an unconscious level, because I've always been frugal, worked hard, and avoided debt, I felt entitled to never experiencing financial lack. Fortunately, when I realized what was going on, I was able to confess my sin to God, experience His forgiveness, and have the Holy Spirit's power to change my attitude. I can choose to live with a grateful heart for all the good He's given me, without concerns about having more, or what will be the status tomorrow.

This experience underscored for me how easy it is to buy into the lies of my culture without even realizing it.

What about you, do you find ways that you've bought into the entitlement lies in our culture?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mental Illness is like a Magnet in reverse

Magnets attract things. But it seems like mental illness has the opposite effect.

I've even experienced the distancing effect when in the past people have asked me what my job was and I've said that I was running a secured psychiatric facility. My next door neighbor who works as a quality assurance nurse for an insurance company, demonstrated a total lack of interest for my vocation when we first met and I was employed in mental health. But one day when she was over at my house for a neighborhood BBQ, and something came up and it came out that my actual license was as a Nursing Home Administrator (the long term care psychiatric facilities in California are licensed as skilled nursing facilities), it was as if I went up ten notches in her estimation. She even asked if she could ever have me consult on situations relating to geriatric care and regulations and standards, should the need arise. Currently, I'm unemployed; just a couple of days ago I told a friend that I've decided to venture out into the geriatric field. When I told my friend this, right away she gave me lots of positive input. She finished her praise and encouragement of this idea by saying that she always thought my work was just so filled with difficult people and hard situations!

In California the homeless population is large in urban areas and typically is comprised of three main groups: Mentally ill individuals, chemically dependent individuals, and normal people who have just had serious bad luck and are in a bad situation. I never cease to be amazed when I observe how people act as if the homeless folks they walk by do not even exist. A favorite author of mine, Brennan Manning, is an alcoholic. In his book "The Ragamuffin Gospel", Manning tells about a time when he was actively drinking and living on the street like a bum. He tells about one day when a little girl came up to him and seemed interested in him. When her mother saw that the girl was talking to him, she came over and pulled the child away whilst viciously kicking him; the result of which was broken ribs for Manning.

What about you, what have been your experiences with mentally ill people? Have you been drawn to, or repelled by, them?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beauty Forgotten

I've been working through the study guide and book Captivating by Stasi Eldridge with some friends. As I was reading this week I was really struck by these words of Eldridge:

"Beauty is essential to God. No - that's not putting it strongly enough. Beauty is the essence of God.

The first way we know this is through nature, the world God has given us."

I'm reminded of Romans 1:20 (NIV):

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Makes sense to me that if creation shows God's qualities - that God must embody beauty.

There's also that verse in Isaiah 6:3 (NIV):

And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

The earth, nature, is full of God's glory. It's apparent that one aspect of God's glory is beauty.

Sometimes I think we are so focused on doing, on things being functional, that we fail to notice beauty. But as I look in nature I see plenty of beautiful things; things that the beauty serves no other purpose than to delight the one seeing and experiencing it.

The power of beauty is so strong, that our culture has caught on to it's power and importance. But in our ignorance of beauty's source, we've missed beauty's substance and purity, and have idealized a corrupted form of beauty. We've limited beauty to a very specific, stringent, criteria that really has nothing to do with true beauty.

Beauty nourishes and enlarges the soul.

Just yesterday I was out hiking behind our house. When you go behind our house you start hiking upward and it opens up into the national forest, it seems that nobody but my family typically hikes there. Due to the light snow the prior night, everything was pristine and it was as if the dog and I were in our own wonderland. Periodically, I stopped hiking and would just gaze about me. I could look up at the mountain tops covered in tress and snow, with a fog beginning to waft about them, weaving in and out among the trees. I could look down into the desert below where the sun was shining and the clouds were dotted about beneath me. I could look at the pure, white, unblemished snow around me. I felt a sense of peace envelope me. I experienced a lightness, a freedom from the challenges in my life. It was as if my heart swelled within me. I was refreshed as I hiked back down to the house.

Beauty does that for me; and God is beauty.

Have you experienced beauty nourishing your soul? Have you had a time when out in nature, or when listening to a concert, or when in the company of someone beautiful, that God replenished you? Can you think of a time when God used beauty to increase you capacity to experience Him?
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